A High Holiday Prayerbook Dedicated to an American Jewish Soldier in Dutch

In the course of his work at the National Library of Israel, Daniel Lipson came across a set of maḥzorim (special prayerbooks for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) published in New York in 1942 that had somehow been placed in the wrong collection. Both bore a label in Dutch and Hebrew dedicating the volumes to the memory of a U.S. soldier named David Meyer Wald, who fell in battle on Yom Kippur 1944 and was buried in the Margraten cemetery in the Netherlands. While Lipson found someone who fits this description, he his buried in Montreal. He recounts his further investigation:

Wald . . . was born in Timkovichi, in what is now Belarus, in 1921. His family immigrated to the United States in 1938 and settled in Pittsburgh, where David worked for a time as a wholesale clerk until he was drafted. . . . [He] served in the 325th Infantry Regiment, a unit belonging to the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Most regiments in this division were paratroop units, but the 325th was a unit of gliders attached to cargo planes which flew them to the battlefield.

Wald’s glider unit was sent into action on September 23, 1944, in the final days of Operation Market Garden. This was the first combined operation initiated by the Allies on European soil with the aim of penetrating into northern Germany. But the operation failed, and among the thousands of dead was one David Meyer Wald.

[T]he soldiers who fell were buried in temporary graves and only transferred to Margraten after the war. It turns out that five years after he was buried in Holland, Wald’s family asked that his body be reinterred in Canada, where they immigrated from the United States.

In 2007, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, rabbi of the synagogue in the Dutch city of Maastricht, found an unfamiliar Torah scroll in his synagogue. He didn’t know where the scroll came from, only that it had been kept in a safe for many years. The Torah scroll was dedicated in the memory of David Meyer Wald by his parents and donated to the synagogue closest to his burial place in Margraten. It would appear that the Walds also donated the two maḥzorim and perhaps other books, as well, at the same opportunity.

Read more at The Librarians

More about: American Jewish History, Jews in the military, Prayer books, World War II

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion